Category Archives: Author Guest Post

7 Myths About Angels by Gina Detwiler

When Forlorn, the first in Gina Detwiler’s angel series released, she blogged at Angel Leya’s blog. It’s an interesting post about angels and worth a read!

Angels may be the most misunderstood creatures in the universe, besides teenage girls. I have experience with both, having written novels about the former and raised three of the latter. By far, angels can be more easily explained. (insert laugh track here). While I have tried in my books to be true to the biblical depiction of angels, I admit to wielding my dramatic license like a get-out-of-jail-free card on occasion. The fun of fiction is speculation, right? So as part of my penance, I will endeavor to correct some myths in this post. Here goes. Read the rest here.

Celebrating Playing by Heart and the Two Sisters Who Inspired It

Guest Post by Carmela Martino

Today, I’m happy to celebrate the third anniversary of the release of Playing by Heart, a novel I’d never planned to write! I’d originally set out to write a nonfiction biography about mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi. She and her younger sister, composer Maria Teresa Agnesi, ended up inspiring the novel, which is set in eighteenth-century Milan.

I have a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science, but I never heard of Maria Gaetana Agnesi until I came across her name in an article about little-known women of history. The more I learned about her, the more fascinated I became. I wanted to write a biography of Gaetana for young readers in the hope of inspiring girls interested in math.

Gaetana was the eldest child of Pietro Agnesi, a wealthy man who longed to attain noble status. After discovering how intelligent Gaetana was, Agnesi hired tutors to teach her subjects typically reserved for boys, such as philosophy, astronomy, and math. She eventually wrote the first math textbook that covered everything from basic algebra and geometry to the recently discovered calculus. In 1750, Pope Benedict XIV nominated Gaetana to be a mathematics professor at the University of Bologna. She would have been the world’s first female math professor, but she turned down the position.

I spent several years writing and revising the book about Gaetana. While researching her life, I learned about her younger sister, Teresa, who was a gifted musician, singer, and composer. Their father regularly held academic meetings in their home to show off the girls’ talents.

When I couldn’t find a publisher for the biography, I decided to try my hand at a novel based on the lives of both sisters. I’d been a fan of historical novels for years, but I’d never considered writing one before. So I immersed myself in learning about the genre as well as in researching the details of life in eighteenth-century Milan.

The original title for the novel was The Second Salvini Sister. I based my main character, Emilia Salvini, on composer Teresa Agnesi, and I gave Emilia an older sister, Maria, who was modeled on Gaetana. I incorporated several events from the Agnesi sisters’ lives into the novel. For example, the scene of Maria Salvini’s speech defending the education of women is based on Gaetana’s first public speech at age nine.

Another real-life event I wanted to include in the novel was a 1739 visit to Milan by future Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. I was thrilled to find a primary source describing that event. Unfortunately, it was written in Italian. I know some Italian, but translating a document written in eighteenth-century Italian proved painstaking. Still, it was worth the effort. The document contained wonderful details that helped add authenticity to Playing by Heart. The novel’s review in Booklist is one of many that comment on my use of details: “Martino’s romantic read features lovable characters and is vibrant in setting and detail.… The book is filled with rich depictions of houses and clothing, allowing readers to clearly picture the historical settings of both Milan and the countryside.”

Writing Playing by Heart was more challenging—and more rewarding—than I expected. I still haven’t given up on writing a nonfiction biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, too. I’m working on a new approach and hope to find a publisher when I’m done. Meanwhile, you can read more about her at a website I created: www.MGAgnesi.com. The site also includes information about Maria Teresa Agnesi and a YouTube clip of modern musicians performing her work. (I sometimes played Teresa’s music in the background while working on the novel.) The novel’s Author’s Note provides additional information about the two amazing sisters who inspired Playing by Heart.

ICYMI: Tybee Time Warp by J.K. Bovi

People who feel the desire to drive east of Savannah Georgia on Route 80 and not stop until they get to the end of the road find themselves at Tybee Island. (Pronounced Tie-bee)

Tybee Island, GA

Tybee is a throwback to the 60’s and a refuge for old hippies, artists, fishermen, and sea turtles. Tybrisa Street is the main drag which is approximately one block long. Many a tourist, expecting the glitter and glitz of Myrtle Beach, have been overheard asking, “Is this it? Is this all there is?” Obviously they must have sunstroke or something and can’t see the pier, pavilion, Seaside Sweets, T.S. Chu’s, Aloha Gifts, Lighthouse Pizza or Spanky’s. They don’t know that, somewhere between Fort Pulaski and The Crab Shack they drove through the Tybee Time Warp.

Annual events at Tybee include; fireworks, Beach Bum Parade, Flotillas for Loggerheads, fireworks, Mermaid Parade, Beach Bash, fireworks, Orange Crush, Pirate Fest, fireworks, and a bunch of running-for-something-to-save-something races.

Lighthouse/Tybee Island, GA

No matter what is happening at Tybee it will be done with flip-flops, Bermuda shorts, a beach towel, and a beach chair to lay back in. And as a matter of fact Tybee is so laid-back that it takes you to a bygone era which is hard to come back from. Some people never escape Tybee and take up photography, wind surfing, yoga, or kayaking. Other people get in their cars, drive west on route 80, and somewhere between The Crab Shack and Fort Pulaski they warp back to reality.

Tybee residents debated putting up a Tybee Time Warp warning sign, but they put up a digital flashing “watch your speed” sign instead. Now, moments before visitors warp through time they can see how fast they were going seconds before they got that speeding ticket. Apparently, no matter how much time is distorted, there are some things that never change.

Visit Tybee Beach and experience the 60’s all over again. And while you’re lounging in your beach chair be sure to bring along one of Vinspire’s great books to read, including my Deadly Seriously Fun book, Dead Man’s Fingers.

Guest Post by Felicia Bridges, Author of Kenya Quest

Mission SeriesI write the stories that come to me, the ones that grab me and won’t let go. I don’t do market research to determine what twist the plot should take or whether the family in my story should be more diverse or whether the next story will sell more copies if it is set in Venice vs. Venezuela. But there are times when, as authors, we need to look to the future and consider where our resources are best invested.

According to Jennifer Austin, https://jenniferaustinauthor.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/what-do-ya-readers-want/, based on a limited poll, YA readers are looking for less romance, especially love triangles, more sci fi, more diversity, and more fantasy but not sugar-coated fairytale fantasy. They want stories that reveal the darkness in the world, that aren’t afraid to confront evil or even allow evil to appear to triumph, but in the end they still want the “happily ever after.”

BookBrats also published a broader survey of what YA readers want a few years ago (http://www.bookbrats.com/ya-readership-survey-results/#.VlpUrd-rSu4).  The most important criterion according to those surveyed? Good writing. Well-developed characters. Rich, well-constructed plots. Realistic dialogue. In short, the most important ingredient for a successful novel was simply the quality of the writing.

The next critical foundation is originality. Once a story has taken the market by storm (think Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent), trying to emulate their proven success by copying the formula will fail miserably. Knock-offs will be compared relentlessly to the original, and seldom will they be found to exceed the one which set the standard. Readers have experienced that; now they want something new and different.

Be original. Be excellent. Write something wonderful.

ICYMI: Why Young Adult Books are so Addictive: Then and Now By Christine Bailey

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If you haven’t read J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, you’re missing out. Arguably the first young adult novel, Catcher sets the stage for other teen protagonists dealing with the adolescent angst we’ve come to love in today’s novels. Or maybe the first YA novel was Maureen Daly’s Seventeenth Summer. Either way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by taking a trip back in time—with either book. You might even realize, like I did, that these teen worlds are not so different from ours today. Okay, so they didn’t have cell phones and social media back then, but they did have love and heartbreak.

I recently had the chance to sit down with a few teens and discuss this book with them. Here’s a comment from Lauren about the protagonist Holden Caulfield as an outsider:  “Holden, though likeable, isn’t always tolerated well by the people in his life such as his roommates and the kids at school. Along with his occasionally annoying personality, Holden is set apart because he doesn’t put forth effort in school. He has attended and flunked out of multiple schools, and he spends most of his time talking about how phony everyone is. Why does Holden act like this? Why not study hard and prepare for the future? He fears the future. He fears growing up. He remembers childhood and the innocence that came with it, unwilling to accept change and move forward with his life.”

Relevant? Relatable? Absolutely! So while Catcher was published in 1951, the themes throughout the novel still speak to audiences today. Plus, it has a great plot, suspense, and a main character you’ll be pulling for until the very last page—much like the good YA books we’re reading today. If you get the chance, read it and compare it to a more recent YA book—let us know what you think. What’s stayed the same? What’s changed? Thanks for stopping by!

ICYMI: Inspiration for the Remarkable Housewives of the Bible series

With the release of the second book in the Remarkable Housewives of the Bible series, we wanted to share some behind the scenes information from the author, Erin Brown Hollis.  (This is a guest post written by the author!)

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After laughing for hours at reality TV and texting my friends about the episodes late into the night, I sat perplexed with a thought – why can’t “church things” be this fun? These days, our television entertainment consists of some pretty outrageous drama, but what if I told you that the women of the Bible have riveting tales filled with much more exciting story lines than anything you’ll find on a soap opera or reality TV…

Maybe, like me, you have felt a little overwhelmed in Bible Study. Or dare I say it, bored? After years of digging in to spiritual books that felt more like a theology class than an encouraging dose of the Word, I decided to write something that would be fun staying up late into the night and cooking up some appetizers to discuss.

As it turns out, the Bible is ripe with scintillating drama, chat-worthy tales and applicable life lessons. These stories seem out of touch because how could Esther’s life in biblical times reveal anything interesting to discuss now? Well, let me tell you, friend – we’ve been reading these stories all wrong! Rather than checking these vignettes off as if completing our Christian girl Bible reading to-do list of sorts, we can dig in and get to know these ladies as if they are walking among us even now.

The women God chose to place in His Word are friends. They are moms. They are wives, leaders, followers, sinners, truth-tellers, brave beings, mistake-makers, licentious temptresses, and courageous souls. These ladies are more than worthy of our in-depth study – and that study can be a whole lot of fun!

ICYMI: The inner-workings of a writer’s mind by Leslea Wahl

Where 3DBecause I am a writer who doesn’t use an outline and usually just lets the story go where it may, I often have trouble remembering exactly how each story is formed. I truly believe the Holy Spirit guides my work and I love seeing the twists and turns a story makes along the way. I always have a starting idea and some rough thoughts of where the story should go and maybe even a scene or two that I want to include but getting to those points is often a fun and unexpected journey.

The idea of my YA novel, Where You Lead, started as a momentary incident that happened years ago when my husband and I were first married. We had recently moved to Washington DC from Colorado and one afternoon we were eating at a Pizza Hut restaurant. I was returning to our table from the restroom and saw my husband sitting at our table. His back was to me so I only saw his dark hair. For some reason I thought about other Pizza Hut’s I had been in throughout my life and how they all looked the same. And I thought, wouldn’t it be crazy if I sat down and instead of looking up and seeing my husband’s face it was actually someone from my past, and all the amazing memories I had of us dating, getting married, and moving to DC, had never happened.

This, I thought, was the beginning of a great novel. I pictured it more as a novel for adults – the leading character abandoning her life and searching for this mysterious stranger that she was sure existed. But since I wasn’t a writer back then, I just stored this thought away.

Fast-forward many years to after my first novel, The Perfect Blindside, was published. This story idea was still rattling around in my head, but I couldn’t figure out how it could possibly be made into a YA novel because there was no way a teenager could drop everything and search the country or world for a mysterious stranger. I again put the idea on the back burner and began writing my second novel, An Unexpected Role. But that little spark wouldn’t leave me alone.

Finally, a few ideas on how to change it up and make it work for YA began percolating in my mind. I decided to set the story in Washington DC, since that is where I first had this idea. I began jotting things down in one of my daughter’s old notebooks. (I’ve kept this notebook and it has been fun to look back on my notes and thoughts.)

The notebook includes lists of places that I had loved when we lived in DC. As I began thinking about those years when we lived inside the beltway, so many memories came flooding back. I still could remember those feelings as young newlyweds when living on the east coast, and especially DC, felt like a different world from out west. But we loved our time there. The history, the old buildings, the civil war battlefields, it was all so fascinating. In this book I’ve not only included our favorite places but also some of the quirky things and incidents that we encountered.

This story has been a labor of love but also required quite a bit more research than any of my other books. In a way, Where You Lead, is part history lesson, city tour, and mystery all combined with a message of listening for God’s call in your life. I hope readers enjoy this fun adventure.

ICYMI: Story Inspiration for Restless Spirits

GUEST POST3D Restless Spirits

BY JEAN MARIE BAUHAUS, AUTHOR OF RESTLESS SPIRITS

Restless Spirits is one of the few books or stories of mine that I can pinpoint the exact moment of inspiration.

It was Halloween night, 2004, and my friends and I went to see The Grudge (this was exactly two nights after I had met the man who would become my husband on a semi-blind date, which might be why it stands out so well in my memory). Afterwards, I was pondering the mechanics of the curse, and I had questions.

Questions like, if someone dies a violent death and becomes a vengeful, murderous spirit, then what happens to their victims, who are also violently murdered? Do they also become cursed vengeful spirits? What if the original spirit kills enough people that those spirits decide to turn around and gang up on the original spirit who killed them?

And thus the main plot of Restless Spirits was born.

So by the time I actually started writing Restless Spirits for Nanowrimo in 2008, it had evolved a bit. It’s funny how your subconscious keeps working on a story and shaping it into what it’s supposed to be even when you think it’s the last thing on your mind. I can’t even tell you where my protagonist, Ron, came from (although I’ll try to make a few guesses in my next post, when I talk about character inspiration). I just know that the moment I started writing in her voice, she just sort of took over and told me the story. That was the first and, so far, only time I’ve ever successfully pantsed a novel, as well as the first time I’d won Nanowrimo, mainly because Ron simply wouldn’t stop talking to me until her story was told.

It actually took a few more years–four, to be exact–before I started writing the book. In the mean time I was working on my first post-fanfiction novel, the Cyperpunk Faeries in Hollywood tale I

was calling Hero Factor,which has since become lost before I could make it fit for public consumption, and it’s probably just as well. I was also falling in love with that aforementioned blind date, planning a wedding and settling into married life, among other things.

I wish all of my narrators could be so chatty. It certainly makes my job easier.

Looking Back—Tybee Island, GA by J.K. Bovi

DeadMansFingers 500x750 (2)Looking back at this wonderful blog post about Tybee Island, GA by J.K. Bovi, author of Dead Man’s Fingers! Once you read it, you’ll want to visit!  http://ow.ly/oQ2x30frZzZ

Inspiration for The Remarkable Housewives of the Bible Series

GUEST POST BY ERIN BROWN HOLLIS

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After laughing for hours at reality TV and texting my friends about the episodes late into the night, I sat perplexed with a thought – why can’t “church things” be this fun? These days, our television entertainment consists of some pretty outrageous drama, but what if I told you that the women of the Bible have riveting tales filled with much more exciting story lines than anything you’ll find on a soap opera or reality TV…

Maybe, like me, you have felt a little overwhelmed in Bible Study. Or dare I say it, bored? After years of digging in to spiritual books that felt more like a theology class than an encouraging dose of the Word, I decided to write something that would be fun staying up late into the night and cooking up some appetizers to discuss.

As it turns out, the Bible is ripe with scintillating drama, chat-worthy tales and applicable life lessons. These stories seem out of touch because how could Esther’s life in biblical times reveal anything interesting to discuss now? Well, let me tell you, friend – we’ve been reading these stories all wrong! Rather than checking these vignettes off as if completing our Christian girl Bible reading to-do list of sorts, we can dig in and get to know these ladies as if they are walking among us even now.

The women God chose to place in His Word are friends. They are moms. They are wives, leaders, followers, sinners, truth-tellers, brave beings, mistake-makers, licentious temptresses, and courageous souls. These ladies are more than worthy of our in-depth study – and that study can be a whole lot of fun!